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Bulls & Blitzes: Texans Swamped by Dolphins Pass Rush

Dolphins’ pass rush overwhelms Texans, Tyrod Taylor

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Overwhelmed by the Miami Dolphins’ bull rushing defensive line and blitzing defensive backs, the Houston Texans’ shoddy pass protection left quarterback Tyrod Taylor in an extremely vulnerable position Sunday.

Taylor was frequently knocked on his back as he was sacked five times, hit nine times and intercepted three times during a 17-9 loss at Hard Rock Stadium that dropped the Texans to 1-8 and mired them in an eight-game losing streak.

“We wanted to put the pressure on Tyrod,” Dolphins safety Eric Rowe said. “Once you see the offense can’t figuring it out, you keep running it. You just keep running it until they figure it out.

“That’s our mindset: get pressure on the quarterbacks. It’s already hard enough if you don’t get pressure, they just pick us apart, so getting pressure, blitzing, and obviously, keep focus on turnovers.”

Dolphins defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, a George Bush graduate, was particularly dominant. He had 2 ½ sacks, three quarterback hits and one pass defensed.

“I wouldn't say it was just shortcomings as they got us a couple of times,” Texans coach David Culley said. “We didn't get the ball out when we needed to get the ball out. We knew it was coming. We were prepared for it. We just didn't execute it very well.

“We knew going into the game that this was a team that, with zero blitz, especially when you cross the 50-yard line, to try to back you up. We had a plan for it. We didn't execute it.”

Whether it was Ogbah, linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel or defensive back Nik Needham, the Texans’ overhauled offensive line had no answers for the Miami defense.

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“We always get pressure, but just keep going, just keep rushing,” Ogbah said. “You never know when he is going to hold to the ball and you got to rush every play like you’re going to get there. Eventually, it will come.”

Playing without injured Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil, right tackle Marcus Cannon and center Justin Britt, the Texans started Geron Christian Sr. at left tackle next to left guard Tytus Howard with rookie center Jimmy Morrissey starting his first NFL game and Justin McCray lining up at right guard next to right tackle Charlie Heck.

There were breakdowns throughout the line, including Heck having issues with players coming completely unblocked off the right side. The running backs, including David Johnson, struggled in blitz protection.

“The guys have done a good job of protecting and battling up front,” Taylor said. “We knew we were going to get a couple of exotic looks, odd-ball looks that we had to prepare for. We just didn't execute, and that falls on me. Moving forward, I'll be better doing so.”

The Dolphins forced four turnovers, including tight end Jordan Akins’ late fumble. The Texans were 0 for 4 in the red zone.

"You're not going to win football games in this league kicking field goals," Culley said. "We had an opportunity to get points down there and touchdowns, and again we didn't execute it. We were down there. Previously in the past, we've had trouble getting down in the red zone. We got down there this time, but couldn't get it in the end zone."

The first interception of the game happened when Jaelan Phillips hit Taylor while trying to throw to Brandin Cooks in the end zone as safety Jevon Holland picked him off.

“Got some decent pressure on the quarterback,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said. “When you get in the red zone, those plays, they’re so critical. Especially at the end of the game. One of those is a touchdown instead of a field goal, and it’s a whole different game.”